With an optimism it hasn't had in years, the Penn women's lacrosse team heads into its first two matches of the 2000 season over spring break. The Quakers (1-12, 1-6 Ivy League in 1999) travel to Washington, D.C., to take on American University (7-9) on March 14, and then head north to face Yale (14-5, 5-2) on March 18. The Red and Blue also have their final preseason scrimmage against Lehigh this Sunday. "I'm so excited. So excited," Penn sophomore Traci Marabella said. "It's completely different than last year -- so much more confidence on the field, in our teammates. You can tell everyone is just happy to be there." While this marks the first time that Penn will play American in a regular-season game, the two squads did meet last weekend in a scrimmage at the William and Mary Invitational. And the Quakers are heartened that they came away with a victory from that match -- and several others -- in that tournament. "I think [the scrimmage] gave our team confidence that if they play well, play their game and take care of the ball, they have a great chance of hopefully winning the game," first-year Penn coach Karin Brower said. American posted its first-ever winning season last year and is led by Ashley Flanigan, who scored 18 goals last season, and Kerry Lambert, who had 11 assists. However, the Eagles will be hard pressed to replace the loss to graduation of their top two all-time leading scorers. The Elis, on the other hand, face no such trouble. Yale returns a potent attacking duo of All-American Heather Bentley (46 goals) and 1999 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Amanda Walton (57). Charged with stopping the opposing attack is Penn goalie Christian Stover. The junior will be in net for the opener, despite having a possible stress fracture in her right foot. On paper, Penn's defense -- anchored by senior Lee Ann Sechovicz and junior Sara Evans, but featuring several freshmen -- looks to be tested early and often. But Stover will be helped greatly by a new defensive philosophy implemented by Brower. "Karin says if someone scores and she says, 'Whose girl is that?' we're all supposed to say, 'It was our girl,'" Stover said, "because if someone scores against us, they've scored against a team, not just an individual. This year the defense is based more on the team talking together, working together." And, the Quakers coach has been pleased with the play of the team's defense in its limited action thus far. "They're getting there -- they're learning how to pressure out harder and be more aggressive on defense, and their positioning is getting better," Brower said. Of the two spring break contests, the Yale match may serve as a better measuring stick. Although the Elis outshot them by a very wide margin, the Red and Blue kept the score relatively close against Yale last spring, ultimately falling 11-5. "It was one of the best games we played all season," Marabella said. "I remember afterwards kind of feeling pretty good and that we could do better. And I remember scoring my first goal -- I was so excited." On attack, Quakers captain and leading scorer Brooke Jenkins will indeed look to Marabella, junior Amy Weinstein and the other Penn attackers to press the Elis. Yale has the unenviable task of replacing goalkeeper Alison Cole, who played all but 55 minutes a year ago. The scrimmage against the Engineers on Sunday, meanwhile, will answer any lingering questions about Penn's lineup. But at practice this week, it was clear the Quakers were already anticipating the start of the season. "Definitely after last weekend I'm excited," Stover said. "It's good to see that we really did click together. "We had such a positive weekend that it's really going to help our confidence, especially with the veterans."
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For Brooke Jenkins, tri-captain of the Penn women's lacrosse team, leadership and strength go hand in hand. One of three seniors on a young Quakers squad and probably the only athlete in Penn history to successfully return from three -- count 'em, three -- torn ACLs, Jenkins leads by example. A second team All-Ivy selection last spring who mentors her younger teammates on Franklin Field, Jenkins also works time into her busy schedule to teach young girls at a local school off the field. "We definitely need Brooke's leadership out there," Quakers lacrosse coach Karin Brower said. "She has the most experience on our team, and I think the kids look to her in a lot of ways. She's definitely one person we need to get out on the field fully as soon as we can." The Alexandria, Va., native became involved in athletics at a young age and never looked back. The captain of her field hockey, lacrosse and basketball teams in high school, Jenkins has moved on to captain both the field hockey and lacrosse squads at Penn. "Brooke's really fun, and she's talented, too -- I don't know how to explain it," Penn tri-captain Lee Ann Sechovicz said. "She's a great player, fun to play with and always cracking jokes. She's great in that sense -- she makes practice fun. "She's determined and such an incredible player that I feel like we'd be lost without her." Too often in the past three years, Penn teams have indeed been without Jenkins. After tallying 19 goals in her freshman campaign with Penn lacrosse, the future looked bright for Jenkins and the Quakers program. But in the season opener of her sophomore year, Jenkins went down with a torn right ACL. With their pivotal midfielder on the sidelines for the remainder of the year, the Quakers struggled to a 4-7 record. Jenkins underwent extensive rehab, though, and made a triumphant return to Franklin Field the following fall -- earning the field hockey team's Most Improved Player award. Then it happened again. Last spring, Jenkins was off to a fast start, netting six goals in the first two games. Jenkins' on-field success did not matter to her right ACL, though, as it blew out for a second time. But after an MRI turned up inconclusive, the feisty blonde midfielder was hesitantly cleared to play and returned to the field with a bulging knee brace in tow. Not even the brace hindered Jenkins -- the determined two-sport star led Penn with 16 goals on only one good leg. "It's amazing -- last year she played in half the games, and she's our leading scorer," Sechovicz said. "That shows something in itself, that she can come back after three ACLs. It's incredible." Bad things are said to come in threes -- and the third ACL tear that Sechovicz refers to happened just months after the second. Last October 15, Jenkins' field hockey career at Penn came to an abrupt halt, this time because of a faulty left knee. Offseason surgery and months of rehab could have convinced many an athlete to call it quits. But not Jenkins. Described by field hockey teammates as an "inspiration," Jenkins cannot contemplate life without her sports. "I just really enjoy playing sports, and with all that free time, I don't know what I'd do with it," Jenkins said. "For me, everyone was kind of like, 'Why do you play both? -- since you've hurt your knee so many times.' "[But] I just like to be out playing. I love team sports and being with the team and everything about it." Having been through it before, Jenkins put her recovery in perspective. "It's actually not been as tough as I thought it would be this time," Jenkins said. Though she did add, "I'm still not back to playing 100 percent." Brower, in her first year coaching at Penn, realizes the importance Jenkins has to this team. Yet Brower is taking steps to ensure the Quakers can both utilize Jenkins and keep her healthy. "Brooke's had a hard time -- I can't believe three knee surgeries," Brower said. "She's playing a lot of attack in practice right now, and we're keeping her out of defense because you kind of have to react a lot, whereas attack you kind of determine what you're doing." This is a bit of a change for Jenkins, who had played more of a midfield position than an attacking role in her first three years at Penn. But the senior has learned to take everything in stride. Jenkins realizes that more will be expected of her than simply putting the ball in the net. Imparting her on-field knowledge and experience to her new teammates is just as important. "Definitely I think coach Brower is expecting me to step up," Jenkins said. "Lead the attack, be more vocal and help the freshmen out, because it's going to be new for them, a different game from high school to college." Jenkins is no stranger to helping younger girls out, though. Though playing both field hockey and lacrosse at Penn prevented her from completing the student teaching element needed for an Education major, the Psychology major still goes out of her way to teach. "I like to work with children, that's one of my real passions," Jenkins said. "I tutor and I'm taking this class called "Girl Talk," and I go to Edison High School and teach a classroom of girls." For the next two months, however, her sole pursuit is a successful senior season with the Penn lacrosse team. "I'm optimistic," Jenkins said. "I think it'll go well."
Temple had a chance to tie as the clock ran out, but St. Joseph's pulled off an enormous Big 5 upset. Jubilant basketball fans stormed the Palestra floor last night after the home team won its biggest game of the year. No, the Penn Quakers did not clinch the Ivy League title. It was the St. Joseph's Hawks who defeated No. 5 Temple, 62-59. The victory was the Hawks' (12-14, 1-3 Big 5) first in four attempts in Big 5 play this season and St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli's first win in his 10 attempts against legendary Owls coach John Chaney. "I love Philadelphia fans," Martelli began his press conference after being mobbed on the court. "What we wanted to try to do was give the players a special moment. I told them that if we played like the way we talked about the other day, they'd be the lead story on SportsCenter, and now they will be. "And it's not about me -- I wanted it for my team." St. Joe's converted 35 percent of its shots from behind the three-point arc to defeat Temple's (22-5, 3-1) vaunted matchup zone from the outside. The biggest shot of the game came off the hands of Hawks senior Tim Brown with 2:03 remaining, putting the home team up, 60-57. Temple's Mark Karcher hit a jumper 26 seconds later to bring the score to 60-59, but that was as close as the Owls would get. "It was a tough game," said Karcher, who had 16 points. "We struggled the whole game, and they outplayed us. It was a wake-up call -- we knew it was coming." Karcher missed a jumper with 40 seconds left, and Hawks guard Na'im Crenshaw made two free throws with 16.7 seconds on the clock to provide the final margin. With St. Joe's fans standing in anticipation of victory, Karcher attempted an off-balance trey just seconds before the buzzer -- but it went long, and the crowd erupted. "It seemed like it was in slow motion -- that last shot," said Martelli, who will give his team off from practice today. "Yeah, it was the shot we wanted," Chaney said. "It was probably the only pattern that we had that worked, and they worked it well. We got jammed up on one side with Quincy [Wadley] being doubled, but he finally got it back to Pepe [Sanchez], who hit Mark in the corner who sat down on it. "Of course, he didn't make it, but there are games we're going to have like that where when you depend so much on your shooting. But Martelli's team played extremely well." The victory snapped a four-game skid for St. Joe's and ended the Owls' 13-game winning streak. It also touched off quite a loud celebration. "Aw man, it's something to have the crowd rush you like that," said Hawks guard Marvin O'Connor, who led all scorers with 20 points. Early on, it was apparent that the Owls were not playing like the team that had defeated No. 1 Cincinnati just a week ago. Temple point guard Pepe Sanchez committed an uncharacteristic three turnovers in the first half. And despite outshooting the Hawks 44 percent to 35 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, the Owls found themselves down 35-30 at the break. "We didn't play the game the way I'd like to see it," Chaney said. "I think Pepe must have had three or four turnovers, and trying to do the wrong thing with the ball. That was bad, and that is uncharacteristic of him. "Bad judgment. But he's so good that he sees guys and he says, 'Well, I'm going to look at them until they get open.' That's bullshit. You can't look at a guy [defender] and say, 'Shazam' -- disappear." St. Joe's extended its lead to 47-34 with 13:51 remaining following a three-pointer by Bill Phillips, and the Owls appeared to be on the verge of folding. But Temple modified its defense to a full-court press and forced four turnovers in the next five minutes. With the Owls fans on their feet, Temple center Lamont Barnes hit a jumper from the left baseline with 8:25 remaining to knot the score at 49. Martelli recounted the ensuing play that gave St. Joe's the lead for good, 51-49. "What happened then was a dribble drive by Marvin [O'Connor]. That helped us out a lot. We took the biggest punch they could give us and came back," he said. Damian Reid and Crenshaw had ten points apiece for the Hawks, who were 11-of-32 from three-point range. The Owls were led by Karcher's 16 and 11 more from Lynn Greer. As a team, however, they hit only 5-for-18 from behind the arc. Temple, much to Chaney's chagrin, also failed to exploit the fact that St. Joe's was in the double-bonus with nine minutes left. The Owls shot just two free throws the rest of the way. "For every foul, we're shooting two, and we should have been at the line every time down the floor. And we weren't," Chaney said. "That to me is the most annoying thing in all of basketball, when I see people who play with their ass and not with their head." St. Joe's hosted this Atlantic 10 meeting at the Palestra -- its fourth "home" game of the season in Penn's fabled arena. The Hawks had previously defeated South Carolina at the Palestra, while falling to Rutgers and La Salle. The excitement of the game vastly overshadowed the memorable halftime ceremony, in which seven players were inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame. The honorees included Villanova star and NBA Hall of Famer Paul Arizin, La Salle great Tom Gola -- who is also in the Basketball Hall of Fame and for whom the Explorers' arena was recently named -- and Penn's own Ernie Beck. Beck, the Quakers' all-time leading scorer, notched 1,827 points over three seasons at Penn and led the Red and Blue to a 62-21 record in his time in West Philadelphia. Though he later went on to play for the Philadelphia Warriors, he maintains a special place in his heart for Penn basketball and the Palestra. "I don't know how many of the young people here remember us, but it's nice to be back in the Palestra," Beck said. "It's the same roof and the same place. I love the Palestra -- great place to play basketball."
Over the course of the roller-coaster 1999-2000 campaign, Penn men's basketball coach Fran Dunphy has experimented with a variety of lineups and offensive sets. At different points this winter, 12 Quakers have seen significant playing time, but in Hanover, N.H., and in Boston this past weekend, Dunphy shortened his bench and went with a seven-man rotation. One of the beneficiaries of this move was freshman guard David Klatsky, who averaged 26 minutes per game on this road trip. "Klatsky has been in there -- you saw him a lot tonight," Dunphy said following Penn's 62-61 win at Harvard. "He's a good player, David is. We need him in there to run our offense like we need it to run." On the season, Klatsky has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.8-to-1 -- a better rate than seniors Michael Jordan or Matt Langel. · Late in Saturday's game at Harvard, Penn men's basketball forward Ugonna Onyekwe went down to the floor in pain after taking an inadvertent blow to the face from Harvard star Dan Clemente. The freshman kneeled on the floor for several minutes before heading to the bench to get his bearings. "Clemente was wearing goggles, and he dipped down and when he was coming up, it caught me right between my eyes," said Onyekwe, who is averaging 11.2 points per game. "It took me out for a little bit, but then I shook it off and I was OK. "I had to go back in anyways." But Penn fans need not have worried -- the 6'8" power forward returned just 41 seconds later and notched a dunk and a layup in the final minutes of play. · Penn is on course to clinch its second consecutive Ivy League title and NCAA berth this Saturday at home against Yale. While the Princeton game Tuesday at the Palestra will be packed, tickets are still available for what could be a pair of equally raucous celebrations this weekend. And the Quakers need all the fan support they can get. "I think it will give us a real good advantage and help us to push through these last few games if the fans are really vocal and intimidating the opposition," Onyekwe said. "We really want to focus and finish off strong these last few games. "So definitely that will be a big advantage to us if the fans are loud and come out in great large numbers to support us." Langel, who watched St. Joe's fans storm the Palestra floor after the Hawks defeated Temple last night, reflected on the response of Penn fans in big games of the recent past. "When we beat Temple last year, they stormed the court," Langel said. "And last year the fans celebrated on the floor after the Cornell game at home. As players, we didn't really feel like that was a time for us to celebrate, so we didn't celebrate -- but the fans do what the fans want to do." · Last night at a special halftime ceremony at the Palestra, seven former basketball players had their numbers inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame. The honorees included Penn's all-time leading scorer, Ernie Beck. And while Beck has been out of Penn basketball for almost five decades, he still keeps up on some aspects of Quakers hoops. "I know Fran [Dunphy] very well, and I'm pushing hard for them," Beck said. "They had a great weekend -- I know we had a close one last week -- but they're sitting on top. The only thing is now they have to win the last three. And Princeton will never be easy." Beck however, was unaware of the challenge to his scoring throne being posed by Quakers junior women's basketball player Diana Caramanico, who is closing in on several of Beck's records. She now has 1,741 points in her three years and seems a very safe bet to surpass Beck's career record of 1,827 points. "No, I don't really get a chance to follow the women, but I always said my records were made to be broken," Beck said. "It is unbelievable that my record has lasted [48 years]. It feels good to know that you're still remembered because of them, but hopefully in time somebody will break them, and that's the way it should be." · Penn is currently one of only three teams that has a chance to go undefeated in conference play. Cincinnati (26-2, 14-0 Conference USA) and Utah State (23-5, 14-0 Big West) are the others. And the Quakers 13-game winning streak ranks second in the nation -- trailing only the 14-game spell currently enjoyed by Utah State. · Today is 6'11" Penn center Geoff Owens' 22nd birthday. "You know, we really haven't discussed any plans for the big fella," Langel said. "But I'm sure he would be the first one to say that winning an Ivy League championship and going back to the tournament would be a great birthday gift for him."
Penn held on to win by one at Harvard after beating Dartmouth Friday night. BOSTON -- The boisterous capacity crowd of 2,125 at Lavietes Pavilion was on its feet with 9.3 seconds remaining in the Penn-Harvard men's basketball game on Saturday night. They smelled an upset in the making. After having trailed 56-46 with 6:06 left, the Crimson found themselves with the ball, down one and primed to pull off a major upset in the closing seconds. But Penn (18-7, 11-0 Ivy League) would not allow the Crimson (10-15, 5-7) to mar its perfect Ivy slate. First Ugonna Onyekwe and then Michael Jordan deflected passes out of bounds on the final possession. And when a three-pointer by Harvard's Dan Clemente bounced off the back rim as the buzzer sounded, Penn breathed a sigh of relief, recording its 13th consecutive victory, 62-61. The Quakers had handled Dartmouth (8-16, 4-7) the previous night in Hanover, N.H., 69-55. "We just wanted to keep everybody in front of us and make them take time to get the ball upcourt," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "I thought they would run it down right away, but obviously they were looking at something specific. "And Clemente got a shot off, but it really wasn't a very good one." Clemente, who had a game-high 25 points and a trio of three-pointers, tore off his protective goggles in exasperation after his miss. "To be honest, I love that shot," Clemente said. "I got a great look and it felt good leaving my hands and everything, but it just didn't happen." Crimson freshman Elliott Prasse-Freeman dished out 14 assists to complement Clemente's scoring outburst. But Penn was spurred to victory by a balanced offense, with four starters scoring at least 12 points. Nothing, however, came easy for the Quakers on their road trip. Penn had to battle back from a 33-30 halftime deficit to topple Dartmouth on Friday night. Senior guards Matt Langel and Jordan paced the Quakers at Leede Arena with 23 and 21 points respectively, while Shaun Gee led the Big Green with 22. "We were a feisty bunch," said Dartmouth coach Dave Faucher, whose squad recorded eight steals. "We played with such defensive passion every possession. Penn had to earn everything." Penn's nine first-half turnovers helped Dartmouth along on its way to staking its halftime lead. None of the Quakers were immune from these mental errors, as the normally sure-handed Langel had 11 turnovers on the weekend. As a team, the Red and Blue turned the ball over 30 times. And what could have been the season-altering turnover came with less than 10 seconds left at Harvard. Harvard's Damian Long hit a pair of free throws with 23.9 seconds left, and Penn found itself up only 62-61. The Quakers then attempted to play keep-away to run out the clock for as long as possible before being fouled. But Jordan -- who had 35 points, nine assists and eight turnovers on the weekend -- inexplicably traveled without a Harvard defender within five feet of him with 9.3 seconds left. Jordan received a pass from David Klatsky, then, anticipating contact, turned and jumped --Eonly no Harvard defender was in the area, and no Penn player was free to receive a pass. "We just talked about it, and he just thought he had someone on him," Dunphy said. "It was just one of those freak things that never has happened to him before, and I'm sure it will never happen to him again." Both Dunphy and Harvard coach Frank Sullivan then proceeded to call timeouts to prepare for the final play. "There was no question about it, we were going to Clemente. He wanted the ball," Sullivan said. But with Langel desperately shoving a hand in his face, the junior's wobbly shot bounced off the back iron. "Clemente played a terrific game," Sullivan said. "We are proud of our effort -- we took a couple shots from Penn but never got knocked down for the count." The Quakers, visibly relieved, survived the toughest road trip this year. "We have another tough weekend coming up," said Owens, who had a career-high 17 boards at Harvard. "But we had a serious gut-check tonight." The previous night, Penn needed stellar second-half play to ground the pesky Big Green. Langel personally outscored the hosts 11-2 over a 4:54 second-half span to put the game away. "They were not playing a lot of help defense, so if you can get by your man a little bit, it seemed like you had an open opportunity to get a shot at the basket," Langel said. At Dartmouth, the Quakers were helped immensely by five blocks from Onyekwe and three from Owens -- which moved him into first place on Penn's career list with 142. A night later, the Quakers jumped out to an 18-5 lead at Harvard on the strength of five points apiece by Jordan, Owens and Onyekwe. But capitalizing on Penn mistakes -- including six consecutive first-half missed free throws by Owens -- Harvard clawed to a 35-34 lead shortly into the second frame. Fortunately for Penn, the visitors were able to wrest back the lead for good just seconds later on a scrumptious left-handed layup by Jordan. And despite cutting it much closer than they would have liked, the Quakers escaped with the victory to return to Penn still undefeated in Ivy play. News and Notes: With seven blocks this weekend, Onyekwe has 42 for the season. This breaks Owens' freshman record of 40 set in '96-97? Jordan netted 35 points to give him 1,541 for his career. He moved past Jerome Allen into fourth place on Penn's all-time list and needs just 11 points to tie Ron Haigler, who played from 1972-75.
The league-leading Quakers host their first Ivy games of the year after going 4-0 on the road. The Penn men's basketball team has looked like a gaggle of supermen lately -- winners of six straight, the Quakers have been blowing away their opponents faster than a speeding bullet. After racing out to halftime leads of 31-13 against Yale and 41-21 versus Brown last weekend en route to a pair of blowout wins, Penn (11-7, 4-0 Ivy League) appears to have found its stride just in time for its first Ivy homestand of the season. The league-leading Quakers host Harvard (8-11, 3-3) at 7 p.m. tonight and Dartmouth (6-13, 2-4) at the same time tomorrow. In four Ivy games this winter, the Quakers have come out victorious by an average of 22 points, allowing their opposition a sickeningly low 42 points per contest. Both the Crimson and the Big Green are well aware of Penn's recent success, though, and are preparing to stage a coup d'_tat to upend a streaking Quakers squad. "One thing about Penn is that it plays this amazing pre-Ivy League schedule, and they think they can come in and just kick our butts," said Harvard forward Dan Clemente, who noted the confidence the Crimson have taken from their narrow 81-76 loss to Penn last February. "So basically, we have to show ourselves in the first couple of minutes and establish that we can play with these guys and then take it from there." In the last few weeks, though, the first few minutes of play have been all Quakers. And defense has clearly emerged as one of Penn's strong points during this stretch, particularly in the paint. Freshman forward Ugonna Onyekwe recorded a total of nine blocks against the likes of Columbia, Cornell, Yale and Brown, so it figures that against fellow Ivy also-rans Harvard and Dartmouth, he will remain a force inside. "I think our defense has been solid the last couple of games, and we've just been feeding off of that," Penn guard Michael Jordan said. "Ugonna and [Geoff] Owens have been changing a lot of shots. And I think our perimeter defense is stepping up also. Our three-point percentage defensively has gone down -- we're not going out and giving those teams those wide open shots, we're making them work for everything. "And if they do penetrate to get past our perimeter guys, then we have Owens and Ugonna back there changing shots and misdirecting them." Onyekwe, however, will draw the unenviable task of defending two of the Ivies' most prolific scorers in the Crimson's Clemente and the Big Green's Shaun Gee. Clemente -- who Penn coach Fran Dunphy said "could wake up in the middle of the night and make a shot" -- netted 48 points in two games last weekend in his return from a two-month layoff due to eye surgery. And Gee is no slacker himself, averaging 18.7 points per game while firing at a 47 percent clip from the field. "If we can contain [Clemente and Gee], that takes away a lot of their scoring opportunities," Onyekwe said. "Those are the guys that they look for and play through. So it'll be a challenge for me to do as good of a job as I can defensively." Though both visiting squads have loads of individual talent, neither has put it all together yet this season. With Clemente on the sideline recuperating from eye surgery, Harvard struggled to a meager 4-7 mark. The Crimson's 6'8" center, Tim Coleman, will present a challenge inside, however, as he pulls in 8.2 rebounds to go with 13.4 points per contest. And though the Big Green returned four starters from a team that went 10-4 in Ivy play last winter, they found themselves in the midst of a 1-9 tailspin before picking up a pair of Ivy victories at home last weekend. In a 73-66 victory over Cornell last Saturday, Dartmouth junior guard Greg Buth led all scorers with 27 points. The sharpshooter who drove fear into the league last season, though, has been indicative of the Big Green as a whole -- hitting for only 29 percent of his three-pointers this season. "They were slated early to be one of the top teams contending for the title, but they slipped a little bit. I don't know why," Jordan said of the struggling Dartmouth squad. "Maybe because they did lose a guy [small forward Charles Harris] who was slated to get a lot of minutes, and maybe that could be it, but I don't know. I have no idea." One thing that Jordan probably does know, however, is that his play and the play of backcourt mate Matt Langel will be essential to Penn's success. Langel put up 24 points on 8-for-14 shooting at Brown and comes in averaging 12.1 points per game. Jordan and Penn freshman David Klatsky, meanwhile, are charged with containing two of the league's leading point guards in Dartmouth sophomore Flinder Boyd and Harvard freshman Elliott Prasse-Freeman. The 5' 11" Boyd, sans cast this season after playing with an unsightly splint on his left hand all of last year, is 11th in the nation in assists, averaging 6.9 per outing. The 6' 3" Prasse-Freeman checks in a tad lower, at No. 14 in the nation with 6.5 assists per contest. While Penn's floor general only dishes out 4.6 assists per game, Jordan also pours in 15.2 points each night. Neither Boyd nor Prasse-Freeman averages even nine points. "I expect them to try to get their teammates involved in as most point guards should do," Jordan said. "But this weekend, [Boyd and Prasse-Freeman] are going to have to beat us by scoring in order for their teams to beat us. They're not going to get those six or seven assists that they want to get. They're going to have to do some other things." Critical to Penn's success in its first home Ivy weekend of the season is that it does not get lethargic or look beyond these two games to next Tuesday's showdown at Princeton. But at yesterday afternoon's practice, that seemed to be far from the case. "I don't think there's going to be anything different [this weekend]," Onyekwe said of his first home Ivy weekend. "We just want to play as consistently as possible and hopefully come out to an early lead again and get ready for Princeton on Tuesday. But it's a big stretch for us -- trying to keep focus before the Princeton game."
Dan Clemente returned from surgery to score 48 points in two games. The look on Cornell men's basketball coach Scott Thompson's face must have been priceless last Friday night, when off of Harvard's bench came a whirling dervish of energy and raw scoring power -- Crimson junior Dan Clemente. True, the 24 points and six rebounds tallied by Clemente in the Crimson's 67-57 win over Cornell was impressive in its own right. But throw in the fact that this was the junior's first game back after sitting out two months while recuperating from surgery to repair a detached right retina, and Clemente's on-court exploits become all the more amazing. "I was totally off the court -- the doctors wouldn't even let me play golf," Clemente said of his layoff, noting that prior to last Tuesday, he hadn't shot a basketball since December 7. "I was pretty inactive until two weeks prior to [Cornell], when they cleared me to start working out. And I was only riding the bike and doing the stairmaster and running a little bit. "My right eye obviously was pretty blurry. And that's one of the reasons why I didn't really want to shoot because it was annoying, more than anything else." But Clemente, the Ivy Rookie of the Year two seasons ago, showed no signs of rust from his 11-game layoff, as he followed up his first 24-point effort by netting two dozen more the following night against Columbia. And with this impressive and entirely unexpected showing last weekend, Clemente became the most improbable Ivy Player of the Week honoree this winter. Crimson coach Frank Sullivan, who came straight out and said "it really now is a rebuilding year" after Clemente underwent surgery in December, had nothing but praise for his star forward's play. "[Clemente] is just such an amazing athlete," Sullivan told The Harvard Crimson after his squad defeated Cornell. High praise, considering Sullivan's initial reaction -- "I thought he was joking" -- to Clemente showing up at practice claiming doctors had cleared him to play. Clemente, for his part, had the same reaction, "It took me by surprise; and my parents didn't believe it; and my coaches couldn't believe it." But the Albany, N.Y., native is no stranger to battling through injuries, so it comes as no surprise that he returned to Harvard's lineup a month sooner than doctors initially expected. Hampered by a left ankle injury much of last season, Clemente averaged 14.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game en route to earning honorable mention All-Ivy status. One of Clemente's strongest showings of the '98-99 campaign came at the expense of Penn, when he dropped 22 on the visiting Quakers in Harvard's Briggs Cage last February -- a display that Penn's players will not soon forget. "He's a major concern -- I watched him last year up at Harvard, and he killed us. He's an offensive threat," Penn forward Frank Brown said. "I would say it takes a couple of games to get back into the flow of things, but surprisingly he came back and was right on point with his shooting." But although Clemente can bomb with the best of them, he is actually the power forward in Harvard's three-guard offense and will spend a goodly portion of his night inside the paint. "He shoots the ball from the perimeter, and he creates some matchup problems because he's a big strong kid," Langel said. "At the same time, he's played a lot of games, so he brings some experience to the table." As the de facto team leader and one of two starters returning to a squad that starts two freshmen, Clemente's return threatens to breathe new life into a Crimson squad (8-11, 3-3 Ivy League) left for dead even a few weeks ago. "A lot of people forget how young we are, with only Damian Long and myself [as upperclassmen]," Clemente said. "It was great experience for those young guys, but now that I'm back, I think everyone is kind of like, 'Alright, let's go and see if we can make some noise here.'" The junior sociology major has already made some noise of his own in just two contests back, as evidenced by a 10-for-17 showing from behind the arc against Cornell and Columbia. But for some around the league, Clemente's triumphant return was not entirely unexpected. "If anybody was going to be less bothered than by time off, it would be a guy like Dan Clemente," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "He's one of those kids that his game is not based on athleticism and timing -- it's more on just knowing how to play. And he is very much a knowledgeable guy in terms of where to be and how he can get his shots." Dunphy himself has first-hand knowledge in the handling of players with eye injuries and, because of this, he was in contact with Sullivan soon after Clemente was diagnosed in December. Last season, Quakers guard Lamar Plummer -- who has left the team and the University for personal reasons this semester -- underwent the same eye surgery that Clemente did, except Plummer's was on both retinas, not just one. True, like the Hair Club for Men preaches, "individual results may vary," but it is still impressive to see Clemente draining 59 percent of his treys just days after being cleared while Plummer connected on only 30 percent of his bombs a year ago. "He's a guy who can score points -- he could wake up in the middle of the night and make a shot," Dunphy said. "Dan was much more a part of their scoring mentality than Lamar was for us, so it was a different hole in their lineup than it was for us. "I think Clemente is probably Harvard's heart and soul." The return of the 6'7" forward brings a surge of new life and credibility to a very raw Crimson squad. Averaging 21.9 points per game, Clemente is a proven scorer who can change the course of any game. "He's the kind of player that everybody has got to be aware of," Langel said. "They run a lot of sets for him, and he's a great shooter and doesn't need a lot of time to get his shot off. So you've got to keep your eye on where he is and try and not let him get open to make some of his shots." As for the future, Clemente is uncertain but optimistic. The junior's 10 three-pointers last weekend moved him into second-place on Harvard's all-time list with 134 treys. He now stands 33 shy of Mike Gilmore's school record. "It feels great from three-point range," Clemente said of his outside shot. "Basically it came right back to me. I don't know, I could always shoot, so it's kind of like riding a bike." One thing Clemente does know for certain, however, is what is in store for him this weekend. When asked about the unsightly, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-esque goggles he now must sport, Clemente laughed and said, "I'm sure I'll be hearing plenty of that on Friday night."
Yale's James Jones and Brown's Glen Miller hope to reverse the fortunes of two weak programs that each went 4-22 last year. Taking over the helm of a struggling Division I men's basketball team is a daunting task. Expectations are naturally high for the new coach to turn around the program, recruit more talented players and produce victories right away. But when you're coming on board as the coach of an Ivy League team that is not named Penn or Princeton, this assignment borders on the impossible. This winter, freshman coaches Glen Miller at Brown (6-10, 3-1 Ivy League) and James Jones at Yale (5-12, 3-1) are charged with the rejuvenation of what are arguably two of the worst men's basketball teams in the nation. Both the Bears and the Elis hobbled through the 1998-99 campaign, compiling identical stomach-turning 4-22 marks, 2-12 in Ivy play. Few positives could be taken away from the cold, dark winter that descended upon southern New England last season. It came as a surprise to no one, then, that when this fall rolled around, both Providence and New Haven had a new face in town. Miller came to Brown quietly, pledging to rebuild the Bears over time. And by already surpassing last season's win total, he is off to a good start. But this is nothing new for the 37-year-old Groton, Conn., native. An assistant for seven years at UConn, Miller spent the last six seasons at the helm of Connecticut College. During his tenure there, he turned around a program that went 4-20 his first season and led it to a 28-1 record and the Division III Final Four last March. "If you look at the last few years and what we have in the program now, we definitely need to increase the talent level," Miller told the media at a press conference announcing his hiring. "People will appreciate how hard we play on a daily basis. When we increase our talent level and combine it with our work ethic -- that's when we're going to win." Increasing the talent level has gone nicely for Miller, as evidenced by the play of freshmen Earl Hunt (17.1 ppg) and Alaivaa Nuualiitia (13.7 ppg). In a promising sign for the future, Brown's top nine scorers are either freshmen or sophomores. Still, success is something that Miller is not willing to put off forever. Following a season-opening 73-63 loss to Providence, Miller told the media that, "We're certainly not taking any moral victories. "We're just going to go 100 percent forward; we're going to be positive; [and] we're going to develop our young kids." In sharp contrast to Miller's laid-back style, Jones came out swinging. The 35-year-old Long Island, N.Y., native previously served as an assistant at three schools -- Albany from '90-'95, Yale from '95-'97 and Ohio for the past two seasons. And this Division I experience has led Jones to take a slightly more in-your-face approach to the Ivies. "I didn't really put our goals in terms of we're going to win 12 games or 15 games, because I think when you start doing that, you give yourself problems," Jones said. "We have 27 games on our schedule, and unless we're determined to win each and every one, do you say to yourself that you'll only win 12 games? Well, then what 15 do you want to lose? "So our goal is to go in and try to win every game. Obviously, that's not the most realistic thing, but that's what our goal is." With a dozen defeats thus far, all has not gone as planned. So, coming into the weekend that saw Yale score a 60-58 upset over Princeton a year ago, one might think Jones would tug on the past to guide his squad -- but that's not the case. "What I did when I first got here, we had a picture in our locker room from the New Haven Register: 'Yale in a Stunning Upset over Princeton' -- I tore that up," Jones said. "And I tore up our stats because they don't mean anything. What we did against Princeton last year doesn't mean anything?. It's a different game now." A critical factor for any new coach is the reception he receives as the new face in town. The transitional process has been greatly eased for Jones -- during his stint as an assistant with Yale, he helped in the recruiting of current Elis such as 6' 10" junior center Neil Yanke. "I was happy when he was picked [as the new coach], because he's the guy who recruited me, and he was a big reason why I came to Yale," Yanke said. "We've kept in touch and he had no real reason to keep in touch, so that just shows that he's a good guy. I didn't get a chance to play for him, so now I get that chance." Other Elis echoed Yanke's sentiment. "I feel great about the upcoming season," Yale captain John Kirkowski told the Yale Daily News this fall. "There's a new outlook of things. Coach Jones, he's changed our mentality as well as our productivity, which is up a hundredfold." But while Jones replaced Dick Kuchen, who led Yale to seven consecutive losing seasons, Miller took over for one of the more highly regarded coaches in Brown's history, Frank "Happy" Dobbs. Miller's team, however, feels that he has connected just as well with his squad as Dobbs did. "It's a lot more fun to play on this team," two-year Bears starter Travis Brown told the Brown Daily Herald after a 98-64 win over New Hampshire. "Everybody contributes. Everything's more dispersed, whereas last year we seemed to focus on getting the ball to one player." And former Brown players feel that the Bears program is moving in the right direction as well. "From what I hear, Miller is a very good coach," said Penn reserve center Oggie Kapetanovic, a former Brown starter. "The coaching change already has been affecting the program -- [Brown's] record is better than it has been for the past few years." Kapetanovic, who transferred to Penn in 1998 after two years with the Bears, still keeps in contact with the few current Brown players who were around during his Providence days. "I don't know [Miller] personally, but from what I hear, though, he gets on them and makes them play hard, and it's showing a little bit of results," Kapetanovic said. "He's committed to winning, and he doesn't mess around. But they're a young team. "They're on the way up -- best of luck to them." Much to the chagrin of their fellow coaches in the Ancient Eight, Miller's and Jones' charges head into this weekend in an unfamiliar place -- right in the hunt. While a 3-1 Ivy mark is not yet reason for jubilation, both squads nonetheless stand in third place and have Ivy coaches worried for a change. "I've gotten to talk with Glen Miller more than James Jones, but I know that Miller has won with his own program for a lot of years and has been a successful coach, so I'm not surprised by what I see," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "And James is just a hard worker. I see how hard he works and how dedicated he is to putting a good product out there, so I'm expecting both of those programs to flourish in the future." Dunphy, who owns a 31-9 career mark against these two schools, sees big things down the line. "Each team has ingredients to it that I think are going to prove very fruitful for them in the future," Dunphy said. "Hopefully it's not this weekend where it proves fruitful in terms of the Penn experience." Optimism is there for both Miller and Jones, but so is respect. The coaches realize they are just starting out, and though their dreams may have no bounds, their teams may.
The Quakers visit an upstart Columbia squad tonight in Manhattan. Perhaps the Eurythmics put it best: "Sweet dreams are made of these." After finishing up all but one of the games in its hellacious non-league slate, the Penn men's basketball team (6-7, 0-0 Ivy League) is letting out a discernable sign of relief as it heads north for its first Ivy weekend of the season. The Quakers visit Columbia (8-7, 2-0) tonight at 7:30 p.m. before traveling to Cornell (6-8, 0-2) tomorrow for another 7:30 p.m. game. And while the likes of Kentucky, Auburn and Kansas on the Quakers' schedule have already passed the team by, Penn is still in high gear preparing for the arguably more important Ivy season. "Columbia has been playing pretty good basketball right now," Penn guard Matt Langel said. "They hit 11 threes a couple of games ago, and hit 11 threes another game as well. It's a tough matchup for us -- they're not real big, but they've got a lot of guys who can shoot the ball. "And Cornell is a tough team. They've played us tough a few years in a row. It seems like they always get up to play us." After losing all five starters to graduation, this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Lions. A 99-52 drubbing at Duke, a heartbreaking 60-58 loss to Seton Hall and a 3-7 start reinforced that notion. But led by an all-sophomore front line -- forwards Craig Austin (15.1 ppg) and Joe Case (10.4 ppg), and center Mike McBrien (8.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg) -- Columbia has won five straight, including 75-58 and 69-66 Ivy wins over Cornell. "We're pretty confident right now, but we're still trying to prepare for each game like we did before this streak -- with hard work," McBrien said. "I think we've definitely improved as the season has gone on, and you can obviously tell from game one to our last game at Cornell that we've improved a lot both defensively and offensively." On the flip-side, this season has been little short of one big unhappy surprise for the Big Red. Returning two big-game ballers in junior forward Ray Mercedes (15.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and 5'9" sparkplug point guard Wallace Prather (13.4 ppg, 3.4 assists), Cornell expected to better its 6-8 Ivy campaign of last winter. But an early-season four-game slide, compounded with back-to-back losses to the once-lowly Lions, have pushed the Big Red up against the wall already in the '99-00 Ivy race. "We have to play our best basketball," Cornell coach Scott Thompson said. "Last year we played a great game at Penn, but they beat us pretty good up here." Last January in Ithaca, Penn handled Cornell easily, 86-62. But in February at Penn, the Big Red gave the Quakers a scare in their penultimate Ivy game. Led by 28 points from Mercedes and 22 more from Prather, Cornell led almost the entire way before succumbing to the clutch rebounding of Penn's Paul Romanczuk and falling 83-81. This scoring ability demonstrated by Mercedes worries the Quakers. "It seemed like last year everything that he throws up goes in," Langel said. "We're going to concentrate on Mercedes, no question," Quakers coach Fran Dunphy said. "But there are other guys who can jump up and bite you as well, so you can't just totally concentrate on him." Penn hits the road three days after its 54-46 win over Drexel. Senior Michael Jordan led the way with 16 points in the victory, but Langel, David Klatsky and Ugonna Onyekwe contributed to a balanced offense -- each scoring in double figures. Center Geoff Owens added 13 boards against Drexel and will be counted on to come up big against two opposing centers who measure just 6'8". Complicating the best laid plans, Penn starting forward Koko Archibong suffered a concussion in the Drexel game and spent Tuesday night in the hospital for observation. Archibong should see action in the Ivy openers, but the Quakers are prepared for all contingencies. Senior Frank Brown should be ready to return from a recent injury, and Dunphy suggested using more of a three-guard set. When Penn takes the court tonight, it will finally lose -- along with Princeton -- its title as the last Division I team not to have played a league game yet. It will be interesting to see how the inconsistent Quakers execute. But if history is any indication, Penn's trip may well be sweet -- the Quakers have won 14 straight from Columbia. "Penn-Princeton is the toughest weekend combination," said Hill, a former Princeton star. "The only thing you can do is try to prepare as much as you possibly can for it. There's no secrets; we don't have any secret weapons or anything like that to add. "It's extremely difficult. Both teams are very good and have been winning the league for the last 40 years."
Lauren Patrizio won the deciding match in three games for Penn's first-ever win over Princeton. After 24 years of coming up just short, the Penn women's squash team finally came out on top. Last night at Penn's Ringe Courts, on the strength of a three-game victory from junior Lauren Patrizio in the night's final match, the No. 1 Quakers pulled out a hard-fought 5-4 victory over No. 3 Princeton. This was the first-ever victory over the rivals from Old Nassau in the history of women's squash at Penn, and it will keep the Quakers at their deserved No. 1 spot in the nation. "It's surreal at this point," Penn senior co-captain Paige Kollock said. "It could have gone either way, but I just felt like I personally have been working so hard, and so has the rest of the team, that there was no way we could lose." But while the Quakers (6-0, 4-0 Ivy League) were celebrating their hard-earned victory, the Tigers (5-1, 2-1) were huddled in silent discussion. "It's painful," Princeton coach Gail Ramsay said. "We match up pretty well with Penn, and I thought we could win more at the back, but they were just too strong. They were just a little more competitive today than we were. "But otherwise, I was happy to see Penn do so well. They've worked really hard, and it's been a great rivalry over the last four or five years." When Patrizio, the Quakers No. 5 player, finally took the court for the last match of the evening, all the pressure was on her to get the deciding fifth victory. Penn was ahead four matches to three, but Quakers No. 1 Runa Reta was down two games to none. The visitors were on the verge of overcoming a three-to-one deficit to pull off the upset. "I was just trying not to think about the fact that there was a lot of pressure," Patrizio said. "I was just really concentrating on getting the ball to the back of the court and taking it one point at a time -- those were really the only two things going through my head." But while those were the only things going through Patrizio's head, a host of her well-placed shots were going right through her Princeton opponent, Anna Minkowski. Down 5-2 to Minkowski in the first game, Patrizio did not flinch, running off seven unanswered points over the course of three serves to take the first game, 9-5. Then, after Reta fell in four games, and with the entirety of the crowd watching her court, Patrizio ran off four consecutive points to take the crucial second game as well. "I think it was just that I was pretty confident," Patrizio said. "I was hitting it to her backhand a little more, and just really deep -- not trying to have it come off the back wall. And the way our courts are, you just have to make it sit back there and not have it come up." Several minutes later, when Minkowski "tinned" a forehand return, it was over. Patrizio's 9-5, 9-2, 9-4 victory had sparked a celebration for the home team. "I was really impressed with the victory tonight and the composure, that people could play hard under the pressure. Lauren really played steady," Penn coach Demer Holleran said."This was definitely a team effort. The whole attitude has been so great in terms of everybody working. "You never know where you're going to get five wins, but you keep fighting until you do." For those who came early to the Ringe Courts, the prospect of the match coming down to the last player seemed improbable. Penn started the night in very strong fashion, with No. 2 Katie Patrick, No. 4 Helen Bamber and No. 8 Chrissy Eynon all turning in early victories for the Red and Blue. Both Eynon and Bamber won rather easily in three straight games, with the latter withstanding a second-game rally from Princeton's Liz Kelly to win, 9-2, 9-7, 9-1. Patrick, a senior co-captain who, like many a Penn senior captain before her, had never defeated Princeton, won in four games on the center court. "I think I played OK," said Patrick, who won, 9-4, 3-9, 9-2, 9-1."I was a little nervous just because of the whole hoopla of the event, and it took a while to get rid of those kinds of nerves. "It looked like we were going to win big, but you can never tell. It was quite tense. It was fun like that, but at the same time, it would be nicer if it was over with earlier." The Tigers, however, did not succumb to the early deficit. Princeton No. 6 Emily Eynon -- sister of Penn's Chrissy Eynon -- picked up a drawn-out, five-game victory for the Tigers. Then, in rapid succession, the visitors pounced on Penn's No. 3 Rina Borromeo and No. 7 Paige Kollock for three-game victories, chipping away at the Quakers' advantage. But Penn No. 9 Patti Lin demolished her opponent -- 9-1, 9-0, 9-0 -- to put the Quakers up 4-3 heading into the top-flight match. The Tigers' No. 1 -- defending Individual National Champion Julia Beaver -- handled Penn's Reta in four games, leaving the outcome of the meet in the hands of Patrizio. And the Penn junior, who sat on the floor smiling with a large bag of ice on her left knee after the victory, came through. "I have to say that, I was thinking that Lauren's match was one we could win," said Ramsay, the Tigers coach. "I knew that Lauren was coming off an injury and that she wouldn't be 100 percent. I was hoping that my player would win -- that was a match that I thought we might be able to win." The past two seasons have seen the Quakers finish No. 3 nationally. Each year, they found themselves looking up at the Tigers and Harvard in the national rankings. Last night, however, Penn showed it is finally ready to take the big step and surpass Princeton. The next stop for the team is at Harvard on February 12, and from there, the National Championships. "It's not over. We beat Princeton, but we have not won the national title. And I think that that is hopefully in the back of everybody's heads," Holleran said. "And I think we can do it -- we're a great team." For now, though, the team is willing to risk basking in its night of glory. "We still have Harvard, and we can't get too overconfident by any means, but it's a great feeling," Patrizio said.
Anarchy reigns for Temple's offense when senior guard Pepe Sanchez can't play. To say that the Temple men's basketball team is a different squad without Pepe Sanchez on the floor is an enormous understatement. Tabbed as a preseason All-American by numerous basketball magazines, Sanchez was living up to his hype with a 10-assist, nine-point, seven-steal, seven-rebound performance in Temple's season-opener versus Miami (Ohio). But then, the 6'4" point guard sprained his right ankle with only 15 seconds left in the game -- and the Owls went downhill from there. "It was supposed to be a great year for us, and we were very excited about it, and people were excited for us too," said Sanchez, who scored 10 points and had seven assists in the Owls' 72-50 win over La Salle last night. "Then we had the injuries -- my injury and Mark Karcher's -- so it slowed down the process of us becoming a good team." Temple struggled to a 5-3 mark without Sanchez, averaging less than nine assists per game and often looking lost on offense. Owls coach John Chaney, never one to mince words, quipped after a devastating 77-72 loss to Wake Forest that, "We're headless horsemen without Sanchez." But, after sitting out eight games, Sanchez finally made his way back onto the court and led his team to a 4-1 record in its five most recent contests. On the year, Sanchez has 54 assists compared to only ten turnovers -- a ratio of better than 5:1 ratio. In the five games since his return, he has recorded an astounding average of 5.16 steals per evening. "Defensively, probably from watching the game from outside for eight games, it gave me a new perspective," Sanchez said. "I've never had a chance to sit out and be looking for where the offensive players make most of their errors and to study the parts of their game. "So I learned something from sitting out, and it makes me a better defensive player." But if Sanchez had had his way, he would have only missed two or three games -- not the eight that he was forced to sit out. Chaney, in his 19th year at Temple, though, was more concerned with Sanchez's health than his return. "I value that kid, and he's pretty special to me," Chaney told the Associated Press after Sanchez's eighth straight DNP, a 62-44 Owls loss to Wisconsin. The coach -- who had called Sanchez's court actions "Argentinian loco" -- added that he "can be his worst enemy because he is a macho person." But control, and ball control in particular, is nothing new to this native of Bahia Blanca, Argentina. For Sanchez, a four-year starter, the hardcourt is but a canvas upon which he can paint, and the ball is his brush. As a freshman, Sanchez averaged 5.3 assists and was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team. As a sophomore, he notched a school-record 93 steals and was selected as the conference's Defensive Player of the Year. Eight of these thefts came in a 67-58 win over Penn. "I don't think that there's any question that Pepe Sanchez is an outstanding basketball player," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "Defensively, he creates so many turnovers for their team. Even when he doesn't get the steals himself, he disrupts your offense a little bit. "And on the offensive end, his precision is terrific. He always sees the right guy." Last year, with a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and with a new school-record 101 steals, the slick lefty was selected as the '98-99 Big 5 Player of the Year. "I'd love to be a two-guard on his team because he sorts things out so well," Penn senior guard Michael Jordan said. "He means a lot to that team. He kind of calms everybody down. When he wasn't there, it seemed like Temple was having a see-who-can-put-up-the-most-shots kind of thing." Dunphy had high praise for the speedy Temple southpaw as well. "He's a pleasure to watch play," Dunphy said. "I'm not sure he's going to be a pleasure to play against, but he's a pleasure to watch play." Too often, though, Sanchez has not been playing. Sprained ankles caused him to miss three games as a sophomore and one more as a junior -- last season's 73-70 overtime loss to the Quakers -- before the eight that he sat out this year. Some might even say that Sanchez's toughest opponent has been his ankles. "I get sprains a lot of times," said Sanchez, who was unsure of which ankle he sprained before the Penn game a year ago. Health concerns, however, will probably not prevent one of ESPN's top-nine senior point guards in the nation from joining Temple alums Eddie Jones and Aaron McKie at the next level. "The idea is to see what my situation is with the NBA, and the second [option] is to go to play professional in Europe," said Sanchez, who led the Owls to the Elite Eight last season. "Probably economically, money-wise, I can make more money in Europe than I can make in the first few years in the NBA. "But my dream is to play in the NBA because nobody has done that from my country yet." For now, however, Sanchez will have to content himself with playing in the Big 5 and with facing off against Penn tomorrow night.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- With five minutes left in the first half of the Penn men's basketball team's game against Auburn on Saturday, Quakers coach Fran Dunphy faced a dilemma. Penn freshman forward Ugonna Onyekwe had just picked up his second foul, and Dunphy did not want to keep him in the game and chance his picking up a third before the end of the half. So who would Dunphy put in to replace Onyekwe? As he looked down his bench, he undoubtedly got an instant headache. Starting forward Koko Archibong had two fouls. Ditto for starting center Geoff Owens -- and reserve center Oggie Kapetanovic as well. This was not the scenario that Dunphy would have ideally wanted when facing the No. 8 team in the nation. "It hurt us in terms of rotations," Dunphy said. "We needed to stay a little bit more out of foul trouble. We were in foul trouble just about the whole second half, and that did not help us." Faced with foul trouble throughout most of the first half and the game, the Quakers were forced into matchups they might not have otherwise wanted. And Penn's big men, fearful of picking up another foul, were tentative at times in the 77-70 loss. "I know that both of my [first-half] fouls were not fouls that I want to make in a game like this," Owens said. "They were just reaching-in fouls where I didn't move my feet and bailed in and just reached. "[Because of the fouls], the rest of the game, my defense was not going to be as effective." Auburn center Mamadou N'Diaye capitalized on the Quakers' early foul troubles to the tune of 12 points, five rebounds and three blocks --Ein the first half alone. More important than the effects that the fouls had on rotations and aggressive defensive play, however, are the free throws that they set up. Penn committed 28 fouls to only 17 for Auburn in the contest. Over the Quakers' last two games -- seven-point losses to both Auburn and La Salle -- Penn has committed 52 fouls to only 30 for its opponents. This has contributed to a statistically staggering free-throw differential between the opposition and the Quakers over these games -- a difference of 66-17. La Salle and Auburn scored 45 deadball, uncontested points from the free-throw line, while Penn has scored just 12 in the two games. Despite making more field goals than both opponents, Penn is 0-2 in these games, due in part to the foul situation. By the time Penn allowed the Tigers to reach the single bonus with nine minutes remaining in both halves on Saturday, the Quakers were at a distinct disadvantage. Down the stretch in both halves, while an Auburn foul on a scramble for a loose ball would result in Penn inbounding the ball, a Quakers foul in a similar situation sent a Tigers player to the line for two shots. Auburn did not make a basket in the final 3:35 of the game, relying on six free throws to finish their scoring. On the other side of the ball, however, the Tigers were feeling some of the Quakers' pain. Preseason All-American pick Chris Porter picked up his second foul with eight minutes left in the first half and saw only nine minutes in the opening frame. Amazingly, he scored no points in the game's first 20 minutes. And through a combination of a healthy dash of good interior defense and a pinch of foul trouble, Porter scored only four points -- 13 below his 1998-99 average -- in his 23 minutes in the game. Still, Porter went to the free-throw line six times -- just three fewer trips than the entire Quakers team. "We really don't look at Chris Porter as this team," Auburn coach Cliff Ellis said. "He's a part of this team. We don't go to one guy. We'll take what comes." What came was the astounding fact that Penn was able to limit the 1999 SEC Player of the Year to one basket on the evening. But Dunphy said that overplaying Porter and focusing all efforts on shutting down the senior was not his team's strategy heading into the game. It was clear that Porter's foul trouble influenced the scenario. But that was only one man out of the Tigers' offensive attack. Penn, however, faced the problem of having four of its five big men in foul trouble. Four Tigers starters played 29 or more minutes, including N'Diaye and forward Daymeon Fishback. No Penn player over 6'5" saw that much action on the court. Archibong picked up his third and fourth fouls in the first three minutes of the second half, and saw only 17 minutes on the court. Owens picked up his fourth with eight minutes left to play, and Onyekwe fouled out with two minutes remaining. Quakers reserve forward Josh Sanger, a defensive specialist with a limited offensive game, saw 10 minutes against the Tigers. This was more time than he'd seen against Kentucky, Penn State and La Salle combined, and Sanger had two of his shots blocked by N'Diaye on back-to-back attempts. With the 6'11" Owens in the game instead of the 6'8" Sanger, it may have been a different story. Owens, who scored 14 or more points in three of Penn's first four games, was held to a quiet nine points in 28 minutes. Like the other Penn big men, Owens spent the rest of the night on the bench in foul trouble, watching as the Tigers capitalized on Penn's foul trouble to pull out the close victory.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Different state, same story. The Penn men's basketball team gave No. 8 Auburn all it could handle Saturday at the Arby's Hardwood Classic, but ultimately came up just short, falling 77-70. Though the Quakers played the Tigers tough, costly turnovers, streaky outside shooting and debatable calls in the second half sent Penn packing with its third straight close loss. The Quakers (1-4) have now dropped their last three games by a combined 17 points, and the team knows that it could have, and by all rights should have, pulled out a "W" in this most recent defeat. "Overall, I would say I was happy with the way we played. But there were so many opportunities we had to play a little bit better and maybe come away with the victory," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "There were stretches where we played very well, but other times we took some foolish shots and shots that were too quick, and that hurt us. We're not too much into moral victories." Penn refused to let the Tigers (5-1) run out to an early lead as several Quakers opponents have done in this season's early going. The final margin of victory, seven points, was the largest lead for either team. Quakers senior Michael Jordan, with 20 points, was the only Penn player in double digits. Auburn, on the other hand, had three players with at least 14 points. Down 42-39 at the half, and 61-60 with eight minutes left, Penn did not perform well enough down the stretch. In the second half, Auburn scored 15 of its 35 points off Penn turnovers. Despite 16 points by Jordan in the final 20 minutes, the Quakers could not overcome two-for-nine shooting from three-point range after intermission. Four times in the final two-and-a-half minutes, the Quakers had the ball, and a chance to cut the Auburn lead to two, or even one, point. But they could get no closer. With 2:27 left and Auburn up 71-67, Quakers freshman Ugonna Onyekwe was called for an off-the-ball offensive foul, giving the ball back to Auburn. Nine seconds later, with Auburn up 72-67, Onyekwe fouled out with his second consecutive foul. The forward was called for charging as he sank a runner -- a huge basket had it counted. With 0:50 left and Auburn up 73-69 , Penn's Frank Brown missed the front end of a one-and-one, and -- once again -- the Tigers got the ball back. On Penn's next possession, and with Auburn up 74-70, Quakers guard Matt Langel was called for an offensive foul, essentially ending the Quakers hopes for the victory. "A couple of plays if we'd just held out and gotten a good shot, then it's a different game," Quakers center Geoff Owens said. "Especially down the stretch, every possession counts. We have to start really valuing the ball and valuing every play." One of the definite keys to the final few minutes was Brown's adventurous trip to the free-throw line. Much to the chagrin of the few Penn fans in attendance and the many watching on television across the country, the referees blew it -- literally. Brown was awarded a two-shot foul -- which was confirmed by the arena announcer and scoreboard. The Quakers senior forward missed his first free throw, and the referee picked up the ball to hand it to Brown for his second shot. But Auburn coach Cliff Ellis went ballistic, correctly pointing out that it was not the double bonus situation. So the referees, trying to right the call made a second gaffe, giving the ball to Auburn. The correct call in this case is to declare an inadvertent whistle and go to the possession arrow to determine whose ball it would be. Though the Quakers had the arrow, the Tigers inbounded before the decision could be contested, and the momentum shifted. "I was a little disappointed that we couldn't get any explanation. We thought that the official had given it to our guy and said, 'You have two shots,'" Dunphy said. "Just get the play right. Just stop the game and don't put the ball in. "At least give me an explanation." Even after this exchange, though, the Quakers still had a shot to win due in large part to Auburn's horrendous free-throw shooting -- 16-of-33 for 49 percent. But Langel was called for a questionable offensive foul on a drive following his rebound of an Owens missed free throw, and Auburn got the ball back. After Scott Pohlman made two free throws, it was basically all over. This was a less-than-impressive ending to an outing that saw the Quakers shoot 52 percent from the field. Led by nine points from Brown and six apiece by Owens and Koko Archibong, the Quakers surprised many of the 13,131 fans in attendance by keeping it close, 42-39, at the half. In one stretch in the middle of the first frame, Brown scored seven straight points for Penn and swatted a shot by Auburn star and preseason All-American Chris Porter. But Pohlman and Tigers center Mamadou N'Diaye each countered with 12 first-half points. N'Diaye dominated inside against both the man-to-man and two-three zone defenses employed by Penn, pulling down 10 rebounds. Penn would not be pushed aside, however. Onyekwe and Jordan combined for 15 points in the first nine minutes of the second half. With 10 minutes left, Penn found itself up 56-55. But then the Tigers found a doctor -- or in this case a Doc -- to solve their ailments. Auburn senior guard Doc Robinson scored eight points in a two-minute stretch, giving the home team a 63-60 lead it did not relinquish. The Tigers' guards, who combined for 32 points, were vital to Auburn avoiding the upset. "Robinson knows exactly what he's doing. He's a solid point guard," Dunphy said. "And Pohlman made some really difficult shots on us in both halves. Their guards did a terrific job." For the Quakers, Jordan was similarly terrific. The senior took over late in the game, scoring 15 on 6-for-9 shooting in the second half and scoring three of the Quakers final four baskets. But, aside from Jordan, the Quakers missed six long-range attempts in the final six minutes. And Auburn escaped with a very hard-fought win.
Mike Germino, Penn's All-Ivy lineman, is a GTE Academic All-American. Please forgive Penn defensive lineman Mike Germino if he doesn't seem overly excited at being one of only 24 college football players named to the GTE Academic All-America first team. You see, the Wharton senior has been picking up awards for his work both on and off the gridiron for the past few weeks and didn't immediately understand the scope of his latest momentous honor. "I think I didn't even really realize what kind of award it was until one of my friends e-mailed me and said that it was in the USA Today," Germino said. "And I picked up the paper and I saw it in there and I was just kind of like, 'Whoa, man, this is pretty cool.'" Two weeks ago, Germino was honored as a first team All-Ivy selection for his outstanding play on the field for the Penn football team. This fall, the senior terrorized opposing quarterbacks to the tune of an Ivy-leading 9 1/2 sacks and a team-high 12 tackles for a loss. And last week, the Longmeadow, Mass., native was named to the GTE District II Academic All-America Team -- for the third consecutive year. Germino maintains a 3.54 grade point average with a finance concentration in Wharton. From the district level, Germino was nominated for national honors, and it was on Tuesday that Germino picked up his biggest award yet -- he was one of only 24 football players from over 200 Division I-A and Division I-AA programs to be selected for the National GTE Academic All-America first team. "This was the third year in a row that I got the district award, so when [Director of Penn Athletic Communications Shaun May] said, 'You made the national team,' I was like, 'Oh, whatever, Shaun, it's not really a big deal' -- because it was the third year I'd got it," Germino said. "Then just to see that it was the one team, that there was the 22 guys that made the national team, that was pretty cool. "And ever since then, I've been pretty excited about it." Germino was joined on the GTE first team by two fellow Ivy Leaguers -- junior wide receiver Eric Johnson from Yale and senior defensive back Ben Green from Harvard. The Big Ten and the Big 12 led all conferences in the number of student-athletes honored, with four selections apiece. The GTE Academic All-America Player of the Year is Chad Pennington, a senior quarterback from Marshall, who is also in contention for college football's prestigious Heisman Trophy award. Germino is the second Penn football player in recent years to have garnered All-America honors -- defensive back John Bishop earned the distinction following his senior campaign in 1997. As a junior in 1998, Germino recorded 34 tackles, including a team-high 10 tackles for a loss, and also picked up 5 1/2 sacks en route to earning second team All-Ivy status. Penn ended the season allowing only 78.9 yards per game on the ground -- the sixth-best rushing defense in Division I-AA. Any way you look at it, the Quakers defensive line was a major contributor to the team's 1998 Ivy League title. And this success is what Germino will always remember of Penn. "Winning the Harvard game, and standing on the railing of the bridge over the river and watching the student body standing in the road throwing the goalposts in the river -- by far it stands out more than anything," Germino said. And, though the Quakers did not repeat as Ivy champs during his senior season, Germino still feels he can take some solace in his All-Ivy and All-America recognition. "It's different in the sense that it's an individual achievement rather than a team achievement. I wouldn't say its nearly as big of a rush as winning conference was," Germino said. "But this is cool because it's an all-encompassing award and it really makes you feel that not just in football, but your whole time in college, you really achieved something in everything that you did and you tried to do." Germino plans to take a month off to spend with his family after he completes his degree this semester. He will then set out to tackle one of his biggest challenges yet -- working at the equities trading desk at J.P. Morgan in New York.
Ugonna Onyekwe and Koko Archibong impressed the Palestra crowds this weekend. It almost would have been too much like the plot of a fairy tale if Ugonna Onyekwe's three-pointer had beaten the buzzer and the Penn men's basketball team had taken Penn State into overtime on Saturday. The story would have gone something like this: Quakers freshmen forwards Onyekwe and Koko Archibong receive the first starting nods of their collegiate careers in their very first home game. The duo proceeds to electrify the Palestra crowd for two consecutive nights, demonstrating offensive moves and defensive prowess that leads the Quakers to two consecutive non-league wins. Alas, this fairy-tale plot line was too much to ask for, as Penn defeated Army, 71-56, but fell to Penn State, 59-56. But this was no fault of Onyekwe and Archibong, who were the highlights of this past weekend's games. "It's hard to understand that those two guys are freshmen," Army coach Pat Harris said. "Those guys are going to do nothing but get better -- I'm glad we're playing them now and not at the end of the season when they're going to feel very comfortable." And Harris should know -- he had a front-row seat from which to watch Onyekwe's and Archibong's show. "I wish I had the ability to grab some of those ballplayers from other countries," Harris said in a reference to Onyekwe, who is from Nigeria. Due to its restrictive admissions policy, Army is unable to recruit foreign athletes. Against the Black Knights, Onyekwe had a team-high six rebounds to go with nine points and a block. The Penn freshman played a team-high 32 minutes. Archibong one-upped his classmate with 10 points, five boards, two steals and a crowd-stirring rejection of a Cadet's almost-wide-open layup. The highlight of the evening was turned in by Archibong just two minutes into the second half, when the lanky 6'7" swingman stole a Jonte Harrell pass at midcourt and ran in for a thunderous one-handed dunk. The crowd loved it, and judging from the beaming smile on his face after the jam, it was clear that Archibong did as well. "That's some pretty fun stuff," Archibong said when asked about his dunk and block. "I just wanted to go out and play my hardest and make the best of the situation I was in. "I didn't know if I was going to start today or not, but I just was trying to go out and play hard whether I'm coming off the bench or starting the game. And when the start came, I was just ready to play." In Saturday's hard-to-swallow loss to the Nittany Lions, both Archibong and Onyekwe tallied eight points -- second only to senior center Geoff Owens' 14 points for the most among Penn players. Onyekwe added seven rebounds, three steals and two authoritative blocks. Once again it was a freshman forward who led the Quakers in playing time, as Archibong logged 33 frenzied minutes. "This could be our lineup," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "I get asked that question all the time, who's going to start. And I can't really tell you that it matters very much to me. Who plays well is the critical piece, and if you play well, then you're going to start and you're going to be in the game a lot." If Archibong and Onyekwe continue to play the way they did this weekend, there is little doubt they will start and no doubt they will get significant minutes night in and night out. Both nights, Onyekwe scored the Quakers first basket, and Archibong sank the second. These two youngsters know plenty about starting fast. Beyond that, it was clear the duo gave opposing coaches headaches in the matchup department. On some occasions, Archibong and Onyekwe were in the game as power forward and center, respectively. On others, the pair were out on the perimeter or leading the Quakers charge up the floor on the fast break. Dunphy now has the luxury of depth in the frontcourt -- something he has not had in years past. "They're very good basketball players, and we expect a lot out of them," Dunphy said after the Army win. "They got an opportunity to start tonight and I thought they came through and played well." Aside from two 14-point efforts by Owens and two nights of efficient ball-handling by freshman David Klatsky, the only consistent Penn players were Onyekwe and Archibong. Defensively, the pair needs a bit more seasoning, as the starting forwards for Army and Penn State were able to combine for 55 points. But on the boards and in the paint, the presence of the duo was clearly felt. And, as a result of their accomplished play on the court, the freshmen became instant crowd favorites. Current Penn stars Michael Jordan, Matt Langel and Owens did not start in their first Palestra games, but this feldgling frontcourt duo did. Given the uncharacteristic opportunity Dunphy has given Onyekwe and Archibong, these two Quakers seem to be securely on the fast track to Penn success.
Following the Penn football team's season-ending 20-12 loss to Cornell on Saturday, a visibly dejected Jason Maehr summed up both the game and the Quakers' 1999 season. "I think you have to be disappointed," said Maehr, a senior defensive lineman. "It's disappointing to lose the last game. We really would have felt the season was a success if we had won. I kind of have mixed feelings today about how this season went." Penn coach Al Bagnoli saw his team's loss to Cornell as a microcosm for the year, as the Quakers (5-5, 4-3 Ivy League) dropped to fourth place, falling short of their goal of repeating as Ivy champs. "That's very, very frustrating," Bagnoli said. "You think you have the advantage when it's third-and-15, fourth-and-18, third-and-12. You think the advantage decidedly swings in your favor." One week before, Harvard coach Tim Murphy was saying the exact same thing about Penn, as the Quakers completed two fourth-downs en route to a game-wining 50-yard touchdown pass. But that was the story of Penn's football season -- ups and downs. Despite returning 16 of 24 starters from the 1998 campaign, the Quakers could not match their 8-2 mark. Record-setting individual performances aside, Penn as a team did not fare as well as they had hoped to this fall. Quarterback Sophomore Gavin Hoffman transferred from Northwestern weeks before the season began and was slow to gel with the offense. But early struggles gave way to big showings. Hoffman set the single-season passing yardage mark with 2,328 yards, the single-game yardage mark with 399 and the single-game completions mark with 29. Still, Hoffman threw 12 interceptions and had more than his share of passes batted down at the line and thrown behind receivers. Grade: B Running Back Sophomore Kris Ryan emerged from a preseason rush-by-platoon system to become the season's brightest star. Ryan led the Ivies with 1,197 yards and also scored a team-high 10 touchdowns. Fullback Brian Cosmello and tailbacks Mike Verille and Matt Thomas combined for 397 rushing yards. Grade: A- Offensive Line Penn returned its entire offensive line and looked forward to big things. And while the line opened huge lanes for Ryan, the sight of Hoffman being sacked 22 times was unexpected. Grade: C+ Tight Ends Junior Ben Zagorski had a break-out year (26 catches, three touchdowns), while senior Brandon Clay caught five passes and saw action mainly on rushing downs. The duo held its own in run-blocking, but dropped passes plagued this group all season. Grade: B Wide Receivers The loss of three supposedly returning receivers before the year started had to hurt. But sophomores Rob Milanese and Colin Smith teamed with senior Brandon Carson to form a strong receiving corps. Milanese led Penn with 41 catches for 702 yards while Smith and Carson each topped the 30 catch/300 yards receiving plateau. Dropped passes aside, this group was stellar. Grade: B Defensive Line Returning three All-Ivy picks from the Ivies' best run defense in 1998, Penn again stifled opposing rushers and harried opposing passers. Recording 29 sacks and allowing only 84 yards a game rushing, Penn's D-line -- led by seniors Mike Germino, Adrian Puzio and Maehr -- accomplished what it set out to do. Grade A- Linebackers Led by returning honorable mention All-Ivy pick Jim Hisgen, the Quakers linebacking lineup was a force to be reckoned with. Freshman Travis Belden had two interceptions and junior Dan Morris had 59 tackles, but Hisgen trumped them both with three picks and 89 tackles. Grade: A- Defensive Backs In losses to Villanova, Brown, Yale and Cornell, Penn's secondary was torched for 1,437 yards and 10 touchdowns, with opposing quarterbacks connecting on 110 of 174 passes (63 percent). They recorded a league-high 18 interceptions -- Kunle Williams returned two for touchdowns -- but were largely unable to stop the third down pass. Grade: C Special Teams Penn kicker Jason Feinberg connected on 15-of-21 field goal attempts, but two of the missed field goals and his one missed extra point all came in the eight-point loss to Cornell. Punter Ryan Lazzeri's 39.3 average was fourth in the Ivies. The kick return teams could be counted on to give the offense good position, but Penn was the only Ivy squad not to return a kick for a touchdown. Grade: B
On the heels of the Penn men's basketball team's nationally televised appearance against Kentucky on Wednesday night comes word that season ticket sales for Quakers basketball have reached an all-time high. According to the Athletic Department, as of yesterday more than 1,100 season tickets have been sold for the 1999-2000 season -- the highest total ever. "It is an all-time high and we're still selling them," Athletic Department Marketing Coordinator Bill Richter said. "In all categories -- season tickets for students, general public, individual game tickets -- we've never had sales as high as this. "It's something certainly that we're very proud of." The Palestra, the fifth-oldest basketball arena in Division I, has a capacity of 8,722. Last season, crowds hovered around 3,500 for most Ivy and Patriot league games, and the Palestra was sold out on three of Penn's 14 games in the arena -- against Temple, St. Joseph's and Princeton. A game with then-No. 8 Kansas on November 17 fell 900 tickets short of selling out. This year, however, having a host of empty seats in the Palestra does not appear to be a problem. In addition, single game tickets -- an alternative for fans seeking to buy tickets for only the marquee games on Penn's schedule instead of for the full home slate -- are also going faster than they have in years past. Tickets to Penn's showdown with Villanova on January 9 and the Quakers' regular-season finale against Princeton on March 7 are both nearly sold out. The overwhelming success of season-ticket sales, Richter said, is attributable to several factors both on and off the court. "What you've done is taken a strong team and thrown some marketing support behind it -- the ads in The [Philadelphia] Inquirer certainly helped us sell tickets and on-campus awareness is at an all-time high -- so the sales are a combination of a lot of factors," he explained. "We started a sponsorship campaign with The Inquirer beginning in September for promoting our football games and then they dovetailed into basketball, where we primarily promoted the season ticket package and pushed pretty heavily the two tickets for $170, which is a pretty good family value." The Quakers will open their home schedule for the '99-00 season with back-to-back games against Army on Friday, December 3, and Penn State on Saturday, December 4. All told, the Quakers have 13 home dates this winter: Army and Penn State in December; Villanova, Lafayette, Drexel and St. Joseph's in January; and seven Ivy League contests in February and early March. Excitement has reached an almost-feverish pitch on campus in anticipation of the start of the home season; much of it stems from Penn's success a year ago, when the team won the Ivy League title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Nearly 300 students -- a record number in itself -- camped out on the annual "Line" over the Halloween weekend for shots at the best season tickets as well as the ticket lottery for away games against La Salle, Temple and Princeton. And the Penn hoopsters take notice of this crowd support. "I heard more people [are in line] than last year, so I'm excited and I'm happy that people are actually excited about us," Quakers co-captain Michael Jordan said at an open practice session that coincided with the ticket line three weeks ago. "It makes me excited and it makes me want to come out and give that extra 10 percent when I already give 150 percent. "I'm happy that the campus is excited. Last year they were a little excited. My freshman year -- not really. My sophomore year -- not really. Last year we won, so now everybody is excited and they're going to come out. And when the fans are here, this place is rockin'. And it's hard to beat us when our fans are in the game." Jordan is certainly right on the last part; Penn is 21-4 at home over the past two seasons, with the four losses coming by a combined 14 points. Those who have yet to purchase tickets to Quakers basketball need not fear -- season tickets are still available, as are single game tickets to every home contest. They can be purchased by cash, check or credit card at the Penn Athletics Ticket Office, which is located in Weightman Hall near the entrance to Franklin Field on 33rd Street. "This is the highest number of season tickets sold in the history of Penn basketball, which is something we're certainly proud of," Richter said. "And it looks like the team is going to justify that type of support -- I think it's going to be exciting. I'm know I'm looking forward to it."
The six freshmen on the Penn men's basketball team are being hailed as the Quakers' best recruiting class in 20 years. Being hailed as one of the best recruiting classes ever for Penn men's basketball is one heck of a billing to have to live up to. But strength lies in numbers, so maybe the high expectations for the Quakers' Sensational Six will prove to be a motivating factor, and not a burden, as they take to the court this winter. "I think these guys are talented but it's a whole different world playing in the collegiate setting than it is in the high school setting," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "So as much hype as that freshman class has had -- and I think that's great -- let's give them a chance to see what they can do at the collegiate level." You might have seen them around campus -- towering above you on the Walk, adorned in And 1 gear and strutting around as if they already own the place. They are Koko Archibong, Howard Bailey, Andrew Coates, Duane King, David Klatsky and Ugonna Onyekwe, and they came here to play basketball -- and to win. But as much as these student-athletes came to Penn for the rich tradition of hoops, they also came to pick up a little thing called an education along the way. King was the valedictorian of Pleasure Ridge (Kent.) High School -- he never missed a day of class in four years and never got less than an "A." Both of Bailey's parents went to league rival Brown, but this Connecticut swingman went against the grain and chose Penn. The Coates' family must have the words "Ivy League" stitched into their shirts. Andrew's father has degrees from Yale and Harvard, and his sister is now a student at Princeton. Archibong, a Pasadena, Calif., native, is following in the footsteps of his father (Columbia) and mother (Rutgers) in taking to the East Coast for his higher education. Family was also a factor in the all-important college choice of Klatsky. He's the younger brother of Penn senior Mike Klatsky, a former varsity tennis player and current member of the JV basketball team. The younger Klatsky readily admits that having his elder brother around campus "is big time." · Having such a large recruiting class has had big benefits not just for Dunphy, but for the freshmen as well. Off the court, being one of a half-dozen eggs brought into the basket-of-hoops at Penn has given the freshmen an immediate group of friends. "The guys have all become my best friends," Coates said. "We all hang out together, we go to study hall together, we eat together and we go out on the weekends together." And Archibong, despite rooming with a hometown friend from Pasadena, recognizes the bonds that being part of the team brings. "I think it's pretty cool that there's so many of us," Archibong said. "We kind of have our own little backbone and set group already." · But it hasn't been all fun and games and a free ride for Penn's super six freshmen. Despite literally being the big men on campus, they can't get everything to go their way. Archibong has even been warned to keep the volume of his music down. "My RA is having some issues with my music," Archibong said. "I listen to a lot of West Coast rap. And when I'm studying and when I'm in the house just chilling, my music is on. That's how I relax. "The thing about it is that the people down the hall from me play some rock music really really loud, so I don't know if it's a problem with rap music or what." The troubled lives that freshmen -- hoopsters or not -- must lead. · But the Quakers' new players are far from pulling their best Minnesota Golden Gopher impression and ignoring all things academic. Classes take up just as much a part of their lives as they do for any other freshmen. "As for academics, it's the same thing as basketball -- if you work hard, you're going to do well," said Klatsky, who then let on about a little-known studying secret. "There's as much work as you make it to be -- if you read every thing you're assigned, you're going to have a lot of work, but you can find ways around that. "The thing I've had trouble with is when the day of a midterm we have a three-hour practice and there's not much time to study. That's where it gets you a little bit." As with most freshmen, the move to a college environment is a shock. "Classes are pretty tough," Archibong said. "I'm really not liking math right now -- I'm in Math 151 and I don't like how the College system is set up where so much of your grade is dependent on one test." Overall, though, it's a mixed bag academic-wise for the youngsters. "I like the Legal Studies class I'm in. I like the law -- my dad's a lawyer -- so that's interesting," Klatsky said. "But I don't really like any of my other classes at all. But I've got to go." "Academically, it's been a little tough but I'm surviving. I kind of expected college life to be like this," said King, attributing an easy transition to advice from his older brother, Ibn Green, a football player at Louisville. · Being 6'8" will present you with problems no matter where you go. It must not come as a surprise, then, that one pet peeve that comes to the minds of the big men is the length of dorm room beds. "Penn says their beds are extra-long," Coates said, scoffing at that notion. The 6'8" forward, though, found an unorthodox way around this problem. "I never sleep straight anyways, I sleep in the fetal position, so it's never been a problem for me." Even 6'4" swingman King has been affected by the small-bed syndrome. "That's a big adjustment because I have a big bed at home," King said. "And coming in here, with that little small bed, it just ain't happening." · While some of the players must find new and inventive ways to find rest at night, the hallmates of these long-armed frosh see many uses for the tallest boys in their grade. Several freshmen girls on Archibong's floor have praised the lanky frosh, noting that, "he's good to have around, especially to hang things up." Likewise, Koko sees many uses for his hallmates -- when he's not at practice, studying or work, that is. "There's four girls that live next door that my roommate hangs out with, so most of the time we're over there because we don't have a television," Archibong said of his nefarious motives. "I want to see a lot of games now and I watch ESPN a lot. "And they have food and they have a kitchen -- and we don't have a kitchen -- so they have all sorts of snacks and fruit laying around. They're always gracious about it." · With so many complaints about the quality of dining hall food from non-athletes, the opinion of several big-eating young men should carry extra weight in determining how good Penn food is when it comes to taste. After all, these guys eat a lot. "I try to eat breakfast because it's the most important meal of the day," Coates said, sounding like a public-service announcement. "I try to eat a lot of eggs so I can get protein. I don't really like hard-boiled eggs but I try to choke a couple down. "And then I just get some bacon, some hash browns, some cereal, a little fruit." So where do they like to go when the hunger hits? A quick survey indicates that the fried chicken delicacies of FWOT -- Fingers, Wings and Other Things -- are a heavy favorite over dining. "Commons kills me. I thought I'd want a meal plan, but?," Bailey said. "Prep school was better because it was a smaller number of people. Here there's mystery meat that you don't know what it is. The food does a number on your stomach and you need to have some Pepto-Bismol always handy." Archibong echoed several fellow frosh in saying that Penn dining is "as good as cafeteria food is going to get," but went on to address the (in)convenient side of a meal plan. "I was a little disappointed in the fact that I kind of jumped myself out there by signing up for 19 meals without knowing that I'm not going to ever wake up for breakfast," Archibong said. "Thus, I'm losing massive amounts of money which could be going to something else." For the frosh, that something else could be a solid meal at FWOT. "We did that -- me, Koko, Duane, Lamar [Plummer] and Andrew -- went up to FWOT one time, but the next morning?," Bailey trailed off, grimacing at the memory. Perhaps if Bailey had a more personal relationship with the campus' finest eatery, he might be accustomed to the award-winning chicken. "Oh yeah, me and FWOT go way back," Archibong said. "I'm a big fan, I eat there a lot. I get the eight [wings] and four [fingers] most of the time with an extra big thing of fries. Or I get the fried chicken with fries." Again, more big eating. But a split may divide the frosh -- while Bailey swears off FWOT before a game, Archibong stresses his ability to "digest stuff real fast" as incentive to eat FWOT as often as possible. No matter, the Quakers' traditional pre-game meal at Smokey Joe's should keep all parties happy. Like true freshmen, the basketball frosh have sampled the full fare of off-campus cuisine that Penn has to offer. Eat at Joe's was named as a solid meal-in-waiting by two newcomers, King professed a love for Beijing and Klatsky noted that "the lasagna at Allegro's is the real deal." · Like many members of Penn's incoming class, the Quakers freshmen have occasional longings for home. Archibong's only trip home until May will consist of a few days over winter break. And Coates will only return home to Seattle for a few days in between semesters as well. But if Bailey's first trip back home as a grown-up college man is any indication, these West Coast hoopsters will have a great time. "I went home just once. I tell you -- it was the greatest weekend," Bailey said. "In terms of starting basketball this early and the intensity of it, I had never done it before. It had been about three months since I'd been home, and it was great. "But now I don't really miss home. I'm adjusting here and I love it. I miss my family, but things are going well." · Onyekwe has a leg up on the competition. At 20 years of age, the freshman -- who was born in Nigeria, raised as a teen in London and went to Mercersberg (Pa.) Academy -- already has the experience of boarding at a school across the Atlantic. Ugonna is in the singularly important position of being able to both identify with what the others are going through and be able to help them on their way. · The best part of Penn for the Sensational Six has varied as much as their games do on the hardwood. But one theme keeps popping up. Ask them about academics, and an analogy to hoops is inevitable. Ask them about food, and talk drifts first to the pre-game meal, then on to the basketball game. Ask them about free time and adjusting to Penn, and discussions of Fran Dunphy's practices show through. Make no mistake about it, these six frosh take the same courses as their 2,400 classmates and long for the next weekend of partying as much as any Quad dweller. For the boys named Koko, Howard, Andrew, David, Duane and Ugonna, however, hoops has been and always will be No. 1 in their lives. And for now, they're the center of attention on a college campus that has starved for eight long months without the thrill of men's hoops.
For the first time since the 1990-91 season, all five members of the Big 5 will play each other. The Big 5 is back. For fans of Philadelphia men's college basketball, no sweeter words have been heard than those uttered last April 22 by Big 5 Executive Director Paul Rubincam, when he announced that the athletic directors from La Salle, Penn, St. Joseph's, Temple and Villanova had agreed to return to the full four-game round-robin men's basketball slate for the 1999-2000 season. This announcement fully revived the unofficial conference, which was first signed into existence in November 1954 by the presidents of the five Philadelphia schools. For 31 years, each of the five programs played one another once a year in front of roaring crowds at the Palestra during Friday night doubleheaders with the prize of "City Champion" at stake. But beginning with the '85-86 campaign, Big 5 games moved to each school's home court, and in '91-92, the format changed to two official games instead of four. This was done mainly to accommodate Villanova -- the Big East added two more league games per season and the Wildcats were compelled to cut back on their schedule somewhere. Despite the Wildcats' defection, the other four teams continued to face off for as many city games as possible. Yet no true city champion could be crowned based on just two official games per team. For instance, Penn went 3-1 in Philadelphia hoops last winter, beating Temple, 73-70, La Salle, 62-58, and St. Joseph's, 66-58, before losing to Villanova, 74-63. But because the Explorers and the Wildcats were the Quakers' two "official" Big 5 games, Penn technically finished 1-1, tied for second behind Villanova (2-0). Now this problem has been remedied. The Big East cut two games from its league slate and the NCAA approved a 28th game per team. With new space in its schedule, the Wildcats agreed to rejoin a full round-robin Big 5. In early 2000, Philly will have its first true champion in nearly a decade. And fans, players and coaches alike are ecstatic. "I think the return of the Big 5 is great. To play a round-robin again and now have a true champion -- that's phenomenal," La Salle coach Speedy Morris said. "I'm really happy it's happening, but it's not in [the Palestra] and it's not the way it used to be -- with one side cheering for one team and the other side cheering for the other team, streamers, mascots beating on each other. But the fact that we're still playing and that games will be sold out is great." The consensus across the country, not just the city, is that the No. 7 Temple Owls (24-11, 13-3 Atlantic 10 in '98-99) are good. Very good. Talk has been spreading like wildfire that this may finally be the year for Owls coach John Chaney to make it to the Final Four. The 67-year-old coach has been one win away on four occasions, including this past March. Chaney, with 605 career victories, is more concerned, though, with having his players play their game and not try to play to high national expectations. "What you have to do is make sure that the youngsters understand a little bit more about having some balance in the way they think and not trying to live up to other's expectations -- that's the worst thing that happens to you," Chaney said. "Because when you're trying to live up to somebody's expectations, you will fail them. You can win 1,000 games but the one you lost is the one they'll hold you accountable for." Returning every player except shooting guard Rasheed Brokenborough, the Owls are typically loaded, and typically favored. Senior power forward Lamont Barnes (12.9 points, 6.7 rebounds) and senior point guard Pepe Sanchez (8.2 points, 5.8 assists) -- the returning Big 5 Player of the Year -- are the Owls floor leaders. Junior Mark Karcher (13.4 points), who dropped 30 pounds to get in shape in the offseason, also returns a devastating game to the small forward position. The key for the Owls will be improved shooting. Temple shot only 41.3 percent from the field a year ago, including 24-for-67 (36 percent) in a 73-70 loss to Penn. The return of playmaker Lynn Greer, who missed all but six games in '98-99, and shooter Quincy Wadley (9.2 points) make the Owls a legitimate outside threat. Still, as every college basketball coach, player and fan across the country knows, the key to Temple is the matchup zone. The Owls' tenacious defense limited opponents to 58 points per game last year and promises to give their opposition fits once again over the upcoming months. "I don't think that they're up to snuff defensively right now," Chaney said, typically modest despite leading his team to NCAA berths in 15 of his16 years at Temple. "We're concentrating a lot more on trying to get some balance on the floor, and this is spending a lot of time with the big guys, and trying to get them to give us some effort underneath." With eight of 12 non-conference games against NCAA Tournament teams -- including trips to No. 1 Cincinnati, No. 28 Indiana and No. 27 Wake Forest and a home date with No. 23 Maryland -- the Owls will be battle-tested come March. A team on the rise in Philadelphia is La Salle (13-15, 8-8 Atlantic 10 in '98-99). In their fourth season in the Atlantic 10, the Explorers broke out of the conference cellar, notching a first-round victory in the A-10 postseason tournament. With four starters back, La Salle expects to go places. Being voted as the No. 2 team in the A-10 West Division in a preseason media poll is a start. "Now there's absolutely no excuses," Morris said. "We should be better than we were last year. Our recruiting is going well and we're ready to take the next step. I think that anything less than going to the NIT, at least, would be a very disappointing season -- as long as no one gets hurt." Back for his senior year is star shooting guard Donnie Carr (18.7 points, 4.9 assists). This bundle of energy was the top-scoring freshman in the nation three years ago (23.9 points), but still suffers from a low shooting percentage (40 percent). The mantle of team leader will be passing on to sophomore forward Rasual Butler (14.2 points) in the near future. After gaining eligibility last December, the then-freshman scored in double digits in 19 of 21 games. He is joined in the frontcourt by junior Victor Thomas (15.5 points). La Salle will struggle to replace graduated center K'Zell Wesson (15.6 points, 10.3 rebounds), as the tallest returning starter with significant experience is only 6'7". "Rasual Butler has the opportunity to be a very special player. He's very talented, and he's worked really hard," Morris said. "But our dilemma is we'll miss the rebounder in the middle, K'Zell Wesson, and we have to find those rebounds. [6'11"] Garrett Bragg and [6'8"] James Jordan, who didn't get a lot of playing time last year, are going to really step up big for us and get double-figure rebounds for us." The question mark in the Big 5 is St. Joseph's. Which Hawks squad shows up -- the team that began last year 9-7 and defeated then-No. 23 Tennessee, or the team that ended the year losing 11 of its last 14 -- is always a question. Coach Phil Martelli, who guided the Hawks (12-18, 5-11 Atlantic 10 in '98-99) to the Sweet 16 three years ago, returns all five starters. But nothing can be taken for granted. The talent is there with junior Naim Crenshaw (10.7 points, 2.9 assists) and sophomore Larry Jennings (6.3 points) in the backcourt and with seniors Andre Howard (11.9 points, 8.4 rebounds) and Robert Haskins (8.6 points) at the forward spots. And Villanova transfer Marvin O'Connor is expected to make an impact at the point guard slot. Sophomore center Damian Reid (9.4 points, 7.8 rebounds), who progressed very well over the course of last season, is one player Martelli is high on. "I think our most improved player from the first of September until now has been Damian Reid, but everybody has had their moments," Martelli said. "I think that bodes well, because we have a lot across the board, not one that we have to lean on." The play of junior forward Frank Wilkins (8.0 points) and senior guard Tim Brown (7.0 points) off the bench could provide a difference in some games, which may boost the Hawks into the upper half of the A-10. One city team hit hard by graduation was Villanova. Losing its starting backcourt of Howard Brown and John Celestand to graduation, the Wildcats (21-11, 10-8 Big East in '98-99) are thin on the perimeter. The return of 6'10" senior center Malik Allen (11.2 points, 6.3 rebounds) will make Villanova a force to be reckoned with inside. Senior forward Brian Lynch (10.4 points, 41 percent three-point shooting) was one reason why the Wildcats led the Big East in long-range shooting last year. Improved play for forwards Brooks Sales (5.1 points) and T.J. Caouette (5.0 points) is needed to help smooth the introduction of new faces in the 'Nova backcourt. If any Big 5 team is going through a rebuilding year, the Wildcats would be it. After an at-large NCAA berth last season, Villanova seems to be heading more towards a middle-of-the-pack finish in the Big East this winter. Philadelphia's sixth Division I team and lone non-Big 5 member, Drexel is in an unfamiliar position. True, the Dragons (20-9, 15-3 in '98-99) find themselves picked among the top three teams in the conference. And true, the Dragons once again have first-team All-America East selection 6'9" Joe Linderman (17.2 points, 7.6 rebounds) manning the pivot. But for the first time in nine years, Drexel will not have coach Bill Herrion walking the sideline. Former assistant Steve Seymour needn't worry that much, though, as he steps into the head position. Senior point guard Bryant Coursey (9.3 points, 4.6 assists) and junior forwards Mike Kouser (12.8 points, 8.1 rebounds) and Petrick Sanders (8.6 points) are all back for the Dragons. Drexel will face Big 5 teams La Salle and Penn this winter. A matchup with St. Joseph's had to be dropped when the Hawks picked up Villanova as part of the reborn full round-robin Big 5 play. The other major player in the Big 5 is the Palestra. The fifth-oldest Division I basketball arena will host six intra-city games, as well as two St. Joe's home games. Penn will host Villanova, St. Joseph's and Drexel in Philadelphia action and Drexel will host La Salle in a cross-town game. Also, St. Joseph's will play its Big 5 "home games" with Temple and La Salle at the Palestra. The Hawks will grace the Palestra with their presence in two non-league games in December against Rutgers and South Carolina.
Brandon Carson hauled in a 50-yard TD to seal Penn's comeback win over harvard. BOSTON -- Move over, Doug Flutie. Facing a do-or-die fourth-and-10 from midfield with 1:17 left in Saturday's game at Harvard, Penn quarterback Gavin Hoffman was flushed from the pocket and forced to throw a scrambling desperation heave toward the end zone. As if guided by Flutie himself -- one of Boston's favorite sons -- the pass settled into the leaping arms of Quakers receiver Brandon Carson 50 yards away for the winning score in Penn's improbable 21-17 victory. With the win over the Crimson, the Quakers must now defeat Cornell on Saturday and hope that both Brown and Yale lose their season finales for any hope of a share of the Ivy title. Hoffman completed 29 passes for 348 yards in the Quakers' (5-4, 4-2 Ivy League) last-second-win -- including seven for 105 yards to Carson -- but none could even hold a candle to this final heave. "We called for Brandon to run a post-read and I was kind of assuming they'd be playing back so he'd curl up at about 15 yards," Hoffman said. "Then some pressure came up the edge and I kind of scrambled away, and I was like, 'Jeez, Brandon, we only need 10 yards,' and he was streaking down the field. "So I just kind of heaved it up -- it was the only thing I could do." Though the Harvard coaches screamed that Hoffman had crossed the line of scrimmage, the play stood and Penn escaped with the win. "[The Harvard defensive back] had his back turned to the ball and he couldn't see where the ball was so I just tried to get inside position," Carson said. "I was hoping that Gavin would see me and he chucked it up. Thank God I came down with it." Just minutes earlier, the Quakers had been left for dead. Hoffman was picked off by Crimson linebacker Jeff Svicarovich and Harvard (5-4, 3-3) took the ball, and a 17-14 lead, to the Penn 31 with two minutes left. But fate works in mysterious ways. On a third-and-two, Crimson quarterback Brad Wilford collided with sixth-string tailback Brent Chalmers -- the lone available Harvard back -- on a handoff and the ball hit the ground. Penn safety Hasani White recovered the fumble, and seven plays later, Penn's prayers were answered. "Just when you think you've seen it all, you haven't," Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. "The hardest thing about this game is that you can invest so much and do so many things so well and you still can get your heart broken. And obviously that's what happened today." One hundred eighty degrees across the emotional plane, Penn coach Al Bagnoli assessed his role in the last minutes. "There aren't many good fourth-and-10 calls," Bagnoli said. "We're very fortunate that when push came to shove, we made a play on both offense and defense and it was enough to get us out of Dodge." The Crimson still had a shot at possting their own amazing final drive but White picked off a Wilford pass at the Penn 25 to seal it with 19 seconds left. "I don't believe in fate but this just wasn't meant to be," said Crimson linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski, who led both squads with 14 tackles. In a game marked by big plays and critical turnovers, the Quakers came through with the last of each. "That was just an amazing feeling right there," senior linebacker Jim Hisgen said of the 50-yard bomb. "We went absolutely bonkers on the sideline. We realized that it was our responsibility now to hold the lead and we were able to step up and make the plays." For the first 30 minutes of Saturday's contest, however, no one would have guessed that this game would go down to the wire. Penn's first drive moved 80 yards on 13 plays, culminating with Hoffman's 15-yard touchdown pass to Rob Milanese. Hoffman completed six-of-six passing in this five-minute drive. The Quakers extended the lead to 14-0 on a two-yard Hoffman scramble in the second quarter, but realistically the visitors should have seen a much larger number up on the scoreboard. Penn took the ball into Harvard territory four other times in the second quarter but two botched field goal attempts, a fumble and a punt left the game close at the break. Adding insult to injury, Ryan -- the Ivy League's leading rusher with 1,194 yards -- left the game in the second quarter with a sprained right ankle and did not return. Not to be outdone, Harvard's Chris Menick -- the Ivies second-best rusher -- saw his game, and his year, end with a torn MCL in the second half. But Harvard's offense was even more stagnant than their Philadelphia counterparts. The home team faced such ugly sights as fourth-and-38, third-and-26 and fourth-and 22. The Crimson's best shot at a score -- following a 58-yard screen pass to Chuck Nwokocha -- ended with an interception by Penn defensive back Joey Alofaituli in the end zone. "Obviously we wanted to come away with points at the end of the half," Murphy said. "[But] I felt actually fortunate at halftime to be down only 14-0 -- it felt like we were very much in the game." And the home team was not about to roll over and die on Senior Day. Kacyvenski intercepted Hoffman, and two minutes later Wilford found tight end Chris Eitzmann from five yards out in the fourth quarter to cut the Penn lead to 14-7. The Quakers failed to gain a first down on their next possession for the third-straight drive in the final frame, and Penn had to punt again. And then all hell broke loose -- or at least Terence Patterson did. The Crimson speedster dropped the punt, picked it up, narrowly escaped three Quakers tacklers and ran 77 yards down the right sideline, highstepping in to the delight of the 7,000 fans for an amazing touchdown. Suddenly, the game was tied. "You run the whole gambit of emotion," Bagnoli said. "You think you've got things pretty well in control? then your kid hits a great punt and it goes over their kid's head and you think you have him deep, and he makes a great play and runs 90 yards for a touchdown and you're reeling." Carson fumbled on the second play of the ensuing drive -- the fourth of Penn's five turnovers on the cloudy afternoon -- and a field goal with 5:47 left gave the Crimson their first lead. However, 4 1/2 minutes later, Carson redeemed himself with a magnificent catch and Penn pulled off the improbable win.